Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The senseless killing of Wayde Sims leaves the city and school he loved in mourning

September 28, 2018 - 10:22 pm

Tiger Rag Editor James Moran reporting...

The LSU basketball team was supposed to begin practice on Friday. The familiar sounds of rubber dribbling off hardwood and sneakers squeaking were supposed to fill the air. Reporters were supposed to be on hand for the first 45 minutes of a season brimming with promise and great expectations.

Instead the media room inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center was filled with an uncomfortable silence, broken only by the sporadic clacking of keyboards, an occasional sob and a few pleasantries exchanged amongst reporters looking for a bit of normalcy on a morning that was anything but.

LSU coach Will Wade was understandably and visibly shaken by living out the worst fears of any coach, teacher or professional that works with young people. He took the podium alongside his boss, Joe Alleva, to provide perspective on the life of 20-year-old Wayde Sims, a life cut tragically short.

Sims was shot during an incident near the campus of Southern University early Friday morning and succumbed to his wounds shortly after being rushed to a hospital. A video released by the Baton Rouge Police Department showed an apparent street fight that ended with gunfire.

Wade was called to the hospital at some point, and after spending time with the Sims family, he broke the news to his team at a scheduled 6:30 a.m. workout. LSU had counselors on hand and suspended all basketball activities as the grieving period began.

“This is your worst nightmare as a coach,” an emotional Wade said. “This is what you’re worried about at all times. There’s problems everywhere, so you just educate your guys as best as possible to stay away from those situations. Unfortunately, sometimes those lessons are the toughest.”

“This world that we live in of athletics has its ups and its downs, and there’s no lower down than what happened last night,” Alleva added. “It is an absolute tragedy when a young life gets cut off so senselessly. I’ve been doing this for over 40 years, and this may be the saddest day that I’ve ever experienced in my career.”

Wade and Alleva answered the questions as best they could, whether they pertained to memories of the fallen forward or trying to figure out where the players, coaches and administrators on campus process the events and try to move forward from here.

Basketball isn’t part of this conversation for obvious reasons. It’s the furthest thing from anyone’s mind at this point, but Wade described Sims as a player on the rise, a versatile veteran taking on a leadership role for his young, immensely-talented team.

“He was just growing and growing and growing,” Wade said. “That’s what makes this so tough. He was on an upward trajectory, a big-time upward trajectory. It’s just tough when it’s taken too soon.”

All of that potential and promise vanished in one senseless pull of a trigger. The grizzly details surrounding the shooting aren’t known yet — they may never be — but the loss of life is nothing short of tragic.

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